In the canon of Mormon lore there are few more colorful or beloved characters than J. Golden Kimball. Kimball was famous for being tall, skinny, and for his colorful way of putting things.
Much of what he said and did has become legendary and one doesn't know exactly what is true and what is apocryphal. But that doesn't spoil the fun of the stories.
I just finished a book about J. Golden Kimball's time serving as a missionary in the South. This was a time when it was not terribly uncommon for Mormons to be beaten and not unheard of for them to be killed. Kimball served as a missionary himself, and then, years later, came pack to preside over other missionaries. This book did a really masterful job of portraying the difficulties, both emotional and physical that came with the territory, and painted a very vivid image of the privations and challenges. I was particularly impressed with the insights into struggle between human fears and
This book is not strictly a history. The author acknowledges that no sustained efforts have been made to separate fact from fiction. And, to be honest, I felt that the folksy narrative could have been toned down somewhat. Still, the book is a lot of fun and provides an enjoyable look at a unique and one-of-a-kind character. The fact that Mormons are (rightly) known as being a pretty strait-laced lot makes hearing about some of our more colorful progenitors a lot of fun. Kimball reminds me in some ways of my grandmother, a feisty country girl who never outgrew the ability to cuss with the best of them. We are a pretty straitlaced bunch now, but we're not that far away from an era of cowboys, ranchers, and pioneers.
A few of my favorite stories from the book:
While returning back to Utah from his first mission in the South, Kimball heard a man loudly criticizing Mormons for their strange and blasphemous beliefs. He listened in silence, growing angrier and angrier. Finally the man said that he wanted to go where he wouldn't risk encountering Mormons. Dander fully up, Kimball said, "You can go to hell, for I know there are no Mormons there."
Another time, Kimball and a group of missionaries were in imminent danger of being attacked by a large group of Klansmen (a group with whom he locked horns several times--something I did not know). Vastly outnumbered by men with guns and boiling tar, Kimball simply bluffed his way out. Referring to the folk rumor that Mormons had horns, Kimball yelled out, "Let me tell you something--Mormons have horns! You cross that stream, and we'll gore the hell right out of you!"
I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review and I enjoyed it. You can buy the book here. One final note: this book is probably going to me more enjoyable to Mormon readers than it will be to readers from other faiths. There's nothing offensive, just some terminology and cultural references that will make the most sense to LDS readers.
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